Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Ocean Break - Essaouira

July in Marrakech was part hot (45-50c and blizzing sun) and part nice (33c and a light breeze). We are used to the heat by now but anyway decided to take a break from our medina life and go to Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. Time for an ocean break and a vaccation from the vaccation. 

Welcome to Essaouira!

We have been to Essaouira two times before but this time we decided to stay a bit longer. We packed our (Louis Vuitton) bags, took Disco with us, called our driver and headed for the blue-white city once again. It's only a 2,5 hour drive from Marrakech. The weather in Essaouira is the same all year round: windy, sunny and around 22-28c, ie the perfect climate. It's also called "Wind City of Africa" and many surfers come here to enjoy the perfect waves.

Essaouira was called Mogador before 1958.

The port of Essaouira

Classical picture showing the town through a hole in the harbour fortress

Last time we stayed at amazing and very five star L'Heure Bleue Palais Hotel. This time we decided to go more hippie style and booked ourselves into the roof top suite of arty and boho chic La Maison des Artistes. This beautiful little riad has the best possible ocean front location with amazing and uninterupted ocean views. The house is filled with art and antiquities and has a very cool vibe to it. The roof top suite is called "the loft" and is a small house on top of the riad with it's own terraces and an almost 360 view of the ocean front. It is simply stunning! We were supposed to stay for four days but one evening we decided to stay on for a while longer if the suite was available. It was. We stayed.

La Maison des Artistes re-opened just two years ago after larger renovations.

The main terrace of Maison des Artistes.

The terrace outside our roof top suite.

The loft suite is like an eagle's nest with 360 views and great terraces

Our living room


Also the bathroom had great views

Magical sunset from our terrace! Best view in town!

The house cat

So we walked the medina of Essaouira. We took long walks along the ocean. We had lunch by the sea. We dined in old riads. We read a lot of books. We enjoyed the breeze. We were seduced by the sunsets. We feasted on lobster every day. We drank local wine in the sun. We took morning runs. We swam. We listend to music. We bought a carpet. We loved it.

50 shades of blue (the terrace of our ocean crib for a week)

The medina of Essaouira is quite small, the houses are white and the doors are blue, not unlike Greece. The streets are somewhat wider than in Marrakech and in general it is quite cheap here. The main attractions except the medina itself are the fortress, the harbour, the beach and the ocean front. Essaouira is not posh but it has some suprisingly good restaurants. The city has a hippie feeling to it and the pace is slow. Orson Wells, Winston Churchill, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Cat Stevens all visited Essaouira and loved it. Rumours also have it that Hendrix wrote his hit Castles Made of Sand here.

The fortress of Essaouira, right outside our window

The fortress was built around1760

Seagulls love this city, they are everywhere!

The medina is small, quirky and beautiful. It is also on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Narrow alleys, Orson Wells filmed several scenes from his film "Othello" (1952) here.

Beautiful doors

The main street in the medina

Essaouira is all about blue and white. And the buildings are never higher than 4 storeys to help preserve the stunning views.

Street art

A big cat and a small dog

The ocean and beach walk attracts a lot of both Moroccans and tourists.

Beach life, even the camels enjoy it!

Beach life 2.0

Disco enjoyed the ocean breeze!

Per & Disco in front of tve Wind City of Africa

A seafood lunch at Taros

Patrick waiting for scampi

The harbour

6 months in Morocco
Watching the waves come in and enjoying every moment of every day like this makes us reflect on how lucky we are to be able to take time off like this and break free from ordinary routines. We were kind of brave to take the step (leaving well paid jobs and a well organised life) but it has been suprisingly easy and so much fun. We have time, the ultimate luxury commodity. Time to travel, time to experience, time to talk, time to reflect, time to be in the present. But how quickly time goes, it has already been over 6 months since we left Sweden and made Morocco our home. It has truly been a great and in some ways life changing experience. We see things in new perspectives and contexts these days. We have met so many great new friends and inspiring people. We have experienced Africa from within. We have learned to live in and become accepted in a new continent so very different from where we come from. We feel greatful and privilliged. We look forward to the rest of this amazing journey, a year filled with new experiences and a totally new lifestyle. We intend to enjoy every moment of it and try our best to give back to our local community and new "tribes".

What to do in Essaouira:
Stroll in the medina
Visit the lively little harbour 
Walk along the ocean
Explore the fortress and kasbah
Swim, surf and enjoy the sun

Where to stay in Essaouira:
L'Heure Bleue - magnificent five star hotel in an historical building. Colonial style and very very nice. Book an executive suite with fireplace, lounge and a little terrace.
La Maison des Artistes - boho chic and artistic riad with seven suits and the best possible ocean front location. Book the loft suite!
Castles in the Sand - two small and stylish appartments/houses to rent if you want your own place and self catering

Where to eat in Essaouira:
Umia - amazing fine dining! This is truly one of the beat restaurants we ever visited and by far the best one in Morocco. It is run by a charming couple from Lyon and the food is to die for. We dined here twice and it is Guide Michelin gourmet standard and great value for money. 
O'Bleu Mogador - cosy restaurant with an ambitious menue and excellent food
L'Heure Bleue - the restaurant of this fine hotel is excellent and offers a beautiful environment as well as great food
Le Chalet de la plage - best sea front restaurant, excellent ocean views and good seafood (avoid the other tourist traps along the beach walk)
Taros - classical roof top bar/restaurant with nice views. Easy going place for lunch or drinks.

L'Heure Bleue

O'Bleu Mogador

Umia - Well worth a trip to Essaouira just to dine here! 

Now we are soon heading back to Marrakech but end August it is time for another ocean break when we check out Mirleft, down south in Morocco. Before that there is some board work and studying to be done (we are starting to study Arabic this fall semester!!).

Au revoir Essaouira!

Take a break, go sit by the ocean!